Proximity to nuclear plants doesn’t raise child’s leukaemia risk

Children living near nuclear power plants run no higher risk of developing leukaemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma, researchers from the Childhood Cancer Research Group in Oxford have claimed.

The findings, published Friday in the British Journal of Cancer, debunk the previously held notion that suggested higher leukaemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma incidence among children living near nuclear plants.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers looked at nearly 10,000 children who were diagnosed with leukaemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma in Britain before the age of 5 years.

The data on cancer cases was culled from the National Registry of Childhood Tumours which is estimated to record 99 percent of the leukaemia cases diagnosed over the study span. The cancer information between 1962 and 2007 was used for the study.

The researchers measured the distance between where these children were born to the nearest nuclear power plant and also where they lived when they were diagnosed with leukaemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The figures were then compared to the data of more than 16,000 children with other cancers.
Findings revealed no additional risk of developing leukaemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma among those living near a nuclear power plant.

“The incidence of childhood leukaemia near nuclear installations in Great Britain has been a concern ever since the 1980s when an excess of cancer in young people near Sellafield was reported in a television programme,” study’s lead researcher, Dr John Bithell, honorary research fellow at the Childhood Cancer Research Group, marked.

“Our case-control study has considered the birth records for nearly every case of childhood leukaemia born in Britain and, reassuringly, has found no such correlation with proximity to nuclear power plants.”

Although the findings of the study are “heartening”, they should be taken with a pinch of salt, Hazel Nunn, head of health information, averred.

“These results can’t rule out any possible risk, so it’s still important that we continue to monitor both radiation levels near nuclear power plants and rates of cancer among people who live close by.”